Disenchanted Republicans?

A recent story in the HuffPost by Robert Reich caught my eye. He was attempting to figure out why Mitt Romney is slipping in the polls and speculated that two reasons count heavily in the analysis. The first is that Romney is a lousy campaigner. Mitt certainly does seem ill-suited for the huge stage he is now performing on, flubbing his lines and terribly uncomfortable with the role he is being asked to play. But the second reason Reich gave is most interesting. I quote at length:

. . . the second explanation strikes me as more compelling. The Republican primaries, and then the Republican convention, have shown America a party far removed from the “compassionate conservatism” the GOP tried to sell in 2000. Instead, we have a party that’s been taken over by Tea Partiers, nativists, social Darwinists, homophobes, [birthers], right-wing evangelicals, and a few rich people whose only interest is to become even wealthier.

These regressives were there in 2000, to be sure. They lurked in the GOP in the 1990s, when Newt Gingrich took over the House. They were there in the 1980s, too, although Ronald Reagan’s sunny disposition gave them cover. In truth, they’ve been part of the GOP for more than half a century — but never before have they held so much sway in the party, never before have they called the shots.

The second view about Romney’s decline also explains the “negative coat-tail” effect — why so many Republicans around the country in Senate and House races are falling behind. Scott Brown, for example, is well-liked in Massachusetts. But his polls have been dropping in recent weeks because he’s had to carry the burden of the public’s increasing dislike of the Republican Party. The same is true with regard to Republican senate races in Florida, Virginia, and every other battleground state.

One thing about this campaign that has struck me is the amount of time Romney spends explaining what he meant to say. My memory of past elections is that the Republicans were always on the attack and the Democrats were on the ropes, explaining and apologizing. But the shoe does seem to be on the other foot this time around (though thanks to Romney’s gaffes the Democrats don’t need to attack) and if Romney doesn’t shine in the debates — his own people suspect he will not — Obama should retain the White House. The Senate race is a whole different ball game, as they say.

But Reich’s analysis gives rise to this interesting question: if enough Republicans get sick and tired of the nasties and crazies who have taken over their party, could a third party with both money and political clout be aborning? Interesting.

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4 thoughts on “Disenchanted Republicans?

  1. The correct response, and a few writers have touched on this recently, is for the Romney loss to be a wake-up call to the Republicans, to look inward, and either become more moderate or continue the move to the far right and irrelevency. Unfortunately, most feel that a Romney loss will be blamed solely on him, and the party leaders, (there isn’t just one we can point to), the radio and Fox talking heads, and far right columnists will all just cluck away at how Romney is at fault, how he was a poor choice and candidate.

    I think many moderates, myself included, have been driven away over the years by the takeover of the party by the “Christians”, the far right, the anti-women movement, and the wealth at all costs movement. The more extreme they become, the more I am glad to have left.

    I’m not a huge Clinton fan, but one thing I always admired about him was when threatened by Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition over some plank or other, Clinton called his bluff and told him to “Bring it on.” Nothing ever happened.

    The Repubs desperately need someone to call the bluff of the NRA, or the christian right, or the talking heads. The fact is, if called out, where is the NRA to go? The Democrats?

    Great post, thanks for sharing

    • You’re welcome! And thanks for the insights. It will be interesting to see how this thing shakes out. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see the moderate Republicans cut loose from the nut cases who have taken over.

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  2. Great post. There are two points that jump out at me when I read this and Barney’s comments. First, Romney is a moderate and his party mission is extremely conservative, even reactionary, using an old world which is not meant to be flattering. Second, the party platform is based on several falsehoods, which are not apparenet to the strident right or Fox News (the stenographer of the party) as they cannot step away and see it. Global warming is here and we better do something about it, we are not taxed enough already as one of the least taxed countries in the world, Obamacare is largely a GOP idea and while not perfect is moving us in the right direction, the stimulus did not fail and saved us from a depression, and the GOP has obstructed many of the further job investments which could have been made. I saw last night on CNN, with interest rates so low, there is no better time to borrow to do infrastrructure imrprovements – and all borrowing is not equal, when you are building an asset vs. paying for operations. These are construction jobs. Thanks for writing this. BTG

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